My new favorite album

I didn't think anything would ever top Good Monsters by Jars of Clay as my favorite album of all time.

When I was a kid, favorites came and went. Aladdin was my favorite movie for about three months, until I saw The Lion King the next summer, which held until Toy Story hit, which eventually gave way to the Back to the Future trilogy, which...well you get the point.

Eventually, the things you love become solidified in your life. Goldeneye found its way into my life back in 1998, and 12 years later its still my favorite game. I discovered how amazing the Boston Celtics were in 2001 (screaming for joy in game three of the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals when Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker led the team to a 24-point comeback victory over the New Jersey Nets), and they've pretty much been top sports dog in my life since then.

And in the early fall of 2006, I heard Jars of Clay's Good Monsters album, and fell in love with how great the band was (so great, that I stood in the rain for two hours waiting to hear them do a free concert at Toad Suck Daze 2009). The album really touched my life, really lifting my spirits during a down time in my life (I wrote more about the topic in this archived Log Cabin Democrat column). The album had it all: Great production values, lyrics that haunted every single brain cell, an uplifting message, and AMAZING instrumental music. If you want a Christian album that doesn't beat you over the head with overdone praise and worship music and offers something unique and original, this alt-rock album is for you.

Amazing tunes and a very high sentimental quality? Never gonna be dethroned, right? In early October, all of that changed. Ironically, Jars of Clay was dethroned in my mind's musical wrestling ring by...Jars of Clay.

"Jars of Clay presents The Shelter" was released a few weeks ago, and it's the closest that I'll ever come to buying a praise and worship album (the genre has been beaten to death). I don't think I'd even call it a praise and worship album, but I could hear some of the songs being sung during a Lifeteen Mass.

Anyways, this is a BEAUTIFUL album. The album features many CCM artists singing along with Jars, including Brandon Heath, Mac Powell of Third Day, Matt Maher, and Amy Grant. When I heard that the album would be a collaborative effort, I really wasn't sure if it would work. Yeah, I expect nothing but greatness from Jars of Clay, but I just didn't want it to sound gimmicky or off-balance.

But the guest performers are used extremely well. Powell helps out on lead vocals on 'Eyes Wide Open,' and other artists such as Maher, Grant, and tobymac, among others, provide amazing background work.

The album does a nice job of switching from upbeat and fun (Small Rebellions, We Will Follow) to hauntingly soul-stirring (Run in the Night, Psalm 27). They are songs you could easily play in Church, crank up in the car, or use as background music during Bible study. Easy to sing along with, even easier to get sucked into. The musical craftsmanship on this album is nothing short of remarkable.

What makes the album truly great is the only track with Jars of Clay going solo on 'No Greater Love.' Perhaps your experience will be different, but I got goosebumps from start to finish hearing that song. If I was going to choose a song to summarize Blessed Mother Teresa, I'd choose 'No Greater Love.'

The lyrics speak for themselves:

Is it still my turn
I think I’m the last one left to learn
That the life I lose
Is the least of my concerns

Show me the beauty of a life
Show me the beauty of a life
Show me the beauty of a life
Laid down

I'm so overwhelmed by images of Blessed Mother Teresa when I hear this song. The amazing sacrifices she made for those less fortunate was the most beautiful life one could possibly hope for. Her love for others truly made her the most beautiful woman that ever lived.

I tweeted my thoughts about the song being written with Mother Teresa in mind to Jars of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine and pianist Charlie Lowell. Lowell tweeted back at me "not very specifically, but you are right, it fits perfect!" while Haseltine wrote "She is a great example of a life well poured out. She knew we belong together."

An amazing album that reminds me with each listen of the great sacrifices made by our faithful brothers and sisters in Christ? Now that's the best album of all time.


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    About This Blog

    A blog for the masses, if by masses you mean myself and family members who probably read this out of pity.

    I'm dustin Faber, the 16-bit Catholic. This blog is an amusing, sometimes thought-provoking look at my life and the world around me. Poetry, cooking recipes, gaming, faith, things that make me go awww, things that make me go grrr, and my obsession with a good glass of root beer can be found here.

    If you're looking for gaming-centered posts, check out catholicvideogamers.blogspot.com. If you seek the blog I keep with my fiance, check out thecatholiclovebirds.blogspot.com

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